Health

Kentucky has 659 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the state’s total cases to 29,386 cases, Gov. Andy Beshear reported during his Thursday briefing. 

He said while the new-case number is higher than the previous day, the positivity rate had dropped to 5.66% Beshear said he hopes the state is experiencing a “leveling off” after the recent uptick in cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. 

“Remember, we as a commonwealth, as a country and as Planet Earth are at war against this one-in-every-hundred-year pandemic, and it means we’ve got to show up every day, do the work, follow the guidelines to protect the health and lives of those around us,” he said.

The governor also reported seven new COVID-19-related deaths.

Mark Carter, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, gave an update on the state’s contact tracing efforts. He said Kentucky has 631 contact tracers and they expect to add 63 more next week. He also reported that there are 190 disease investigators.

After ordering bars to close and reducing capacity at restaurants earlier this week, Beshear addressed concerns Thursday about businesses like Kentucky Kingdom. A picture surfaced this week showing a crowded wave pool there, and the amusement park defended its safety measures to WDRB.

“We have received a couple of complaints on that, and are speaking directly to Kentucky Kingdom itself,” he said. “We’ll provide more information when we have it, but when we do get those complaints, we do reach out.

Beshear also briefly discussed the Kentucky Derby following news that Churchill Downs had paused in-field tickets, and whether he would attend to hand out the trophy. 

“The very first threat to all of us, and that means to Derby, was the escalation that we were seeing,” he said. “I hope that we have stopped that again… If the numbers are still where they are right now, in September, that means we’ve done a great job plateauing them, and if that’s the case, I probably would go and hand out that trophy.”

He also looked ahead to November during the briefing, in particular the elections. Beshear said he doesn’t think the November elections should be delayed, responding to a recent comment from President Donald Trump. The president tweeted this morning that the elections should be pushed back, and railed against expanded mail in voting. 

Beshear said he supports expanded voting by mail, or no-excuse absentee ballots, like Kentucky had in this ear’s primary election. 

“I believe that we ought to have early voting,” he said. “I believe that we should have more polling locations open this time around. I believe that if we do all of those things, we can do it safely.”

Asked about Muncie McNamara’s testimony at the legislature earlier Thursday, Beshear defended the former director of unemployment’s firing. He said his administration had addressed the issues McNamara brought up during testimony, and that McNamara should take responsibility for his role in the poor handling of a data breach. 

During the briefing, the state’s public health commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, warned about the long-term effects of COVID-19, saying he’s “not trying to fear-monger,” but he wants everyone to realize that this virus is much more serious than the flu. 

He mentioned former Broadway star Nick Cordero, who died early July at age 41, after enduring a number of complications from coronavirus, including having to have his leg amputated.

Stack also described disturbing long-term damage that can occur to people’s lungs.

“We don’t know enough about this yet,” he said. “But there is a subset of people who get this condition and it’s like you poured Roundup into their lungs. It absolutely eats up their lungs, and… they have permanent oxygen dependencies, or at least long-term oxygen dependencies that goes on for months.”

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.